This my third consecutive year attending WordCamp St. Louis and the conference continues to improve and get better each year. Last year I attended WordCamp St. Louis 2015 which is the year they introduced Kids Camp. My son would randomly ask me about WordCamp leading up to this year’s conference so I knew we would be attending again. More on Kids Camp later.
Prior to attending the conference I subscribed to email updates on stlouis.wordcamp.org/2016. It was nice to get updates and learn about each speaker. Brava to Nile Flores (blondishnet) on her blogging work to keep everyone informed. The website also lists the Attendees and a link to everyone’s Twitter profiles. The one improvement I would like to see here is to display a Twitter follow button to make it a time saver when following attendees.
Again this year the conference was 2 days with Saturday being the main conference and Sunday was the Community Day with a Kids Camp. The tracks were broken up by developer and user with a developer/user round table and keynote speaker in the after lunch. There was a job board that quickly filled up and that was great to see.
After a super quick and easy registration I entered the main auditorium where 300+ WordPress junkies gathered. I heard several people again this year asking when Room 300 is while wondering the hallway. Room 300 is actually the main auditorium and I think the organizers should consider adding that additional label to the signage maybe some thing like Room 300 (Main Auditorium). Yes, I realize it is announced but attendees are still getting confused on that one.
The first session I attended was Plugin Development 101 by Chris Flannagan and I thought he did a great job. It was a very informative talk about building your own from plugins scratch. Chris recommended using JetBrains PhpStorm for an IDE which I am currently evaluating. The slides are available in PDF on his website and I recommend checking it out if you are new to plugin development.
In between the morning sessions I had a nice chat with Jeff Wayland who is a project manager for Vervocity Interactive in Quincy, IL. It is nice to hear from folks who are making a living with WordPress. It sounds like business is strong. I think WordCamps are a great way of networking.
Up next was Brian Hilliard. Brian is a popular speaker and author of the best-selling book Networking Like a Pro! I am really glad I got to meet Brian. He was a very seasoned speaker and had everyone’s attention and asking good questions. Brian recommended a Norwegian TV political thriller called Occupied which is Now Streaming on Netflix: A Fantastic Political Thriller on Climate Change. After giving us the recommendation he asked if that was a sell or something else and then encourages everyone to approach sales more in this style. It was very interesting to say the least.
During lunch I popped into the Happiness Bar which is a gathering place where attendees can have their WordPress questions answered by the experts. There I met Alex Miller who helped me out with a pesky configuration error I am currently experiencing on a project. We did not solve the problem but Alex was very helpful and I really like his troubleshooting style.
After lunch it was time for the keynote from Chris Lema. Chris did a fantastic talk on The future of WordPress: five years out which I really enjoyed. He talked a lot about community and where WordPress will be years from now. My only wish was that he opened it up for Q & A at the end. I had a prior commitment in the afternoon so I had to bail.
Chris Koerner and Eric Juden did an amazing job again this year leading a class of about a dozen people. There were several girls and boys aged 8-12 and we spent the morning learning how to build a WordPress site and had a lot of fun doing it. My son Aidan had a great time. Here is what he said last year and I asked him again this what he thought and he reiterated…
It was really fun at the Kids Camp 2016. We learned how to make a basic website. I knew most of it already since I’ve messed around with WordPress with my dad before. But it was fun learning the stuff I didn’t already know like how to embed a YouTube video into a post/page. – Aidan Jenney age 10.
Hats off to all of the local and national WordPress folks that made WordCamp 2016 a great success.
Related content: WordCamp St. Louis 2016 Review
Further reading: stlouis.wordcamp.org